Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Raise awareness and visibility at one of Boston’s best kept tourism secrets.


Multiple design awards, and anticipation that the pavilion will positively impact the number of visitors to the site.


A new pavilion that connects Boston’s historic waterfront to downtown.

A primary gateway linking Boston to the Harbor Islands.

Once considered one of Boston’s best-kept secrets, Boston Harbor Islands National Park was looking to increase visibility and entice visitors to its network of 34 islands, a Civil War–era fort, historic lighthouses, and more than 50 square miles of bays, harbors, and rivers within the Boston Harbor basin.

Together with the National Park Service, Boston Harbor Alliance, architecture firm Utile, and landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, IDEO and the National Park Service came up with a plan to design a pavilion on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, which reconnects the city’s historic waterfront to the downtown area. The team believed a successful pavilion would sell boat tickets, attract passers-by, and enable a positive encounter with the islands. Today, the structure serves as the primary gateway linking Boston to the Harbor Islands, equipping the city with an experiential anchor to better connect visitors with Boston’s coastal gems.

The Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion was officially unveiled on June 2, 2011, and honored with an Honor Award for Design Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects, the 2011 Grand Honor Award from the Associated General Contractors of New England, and a Silver Award from the 2012 ACEC/MA Engineering Excellence Awards.

The Boston Harbor Island Alliance, which acts as a steward for the 34 islands, anticipates that the pavilion will positively impact the number of visitors this year.

A New Pathway to Boston Harbor Islands, produced by Northeastern University.

Retail and Hospitality
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